ON THE BULLETIN BOARD
ZAPATISTA NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY
Early morning in reality.
Just here, as usual: watching and listening. The crack in the wall is barely visible from the other side. On our side it expands with persistence.
In the classrooms and in the huts of the thousands of Zapatista families who received, housed, fed, and cared for thousands of others, men, women, and children from the five continents, the evaluations made by the teachers and votanes after you all left still resound.
Some of the evaluations were harsh, it’s true, but that probably won’t matter to those who claimed to have been moved by the experience and then continued on with their lives as if nothing had happened, avoiding looking in the mirror or editing that glance at their whim. Despite this, according to what I’ve heard, there were some, a few, that were evaluated as “pretty good.”
“Pretty good” is how the compas describe something good without making a fuss. “How are you?” “Well, I’m here, pretty good,” is how we greet each other.
Meanwhile time marches on just as we do, without fuss, just moving along, like shadows…
And the compa Galeano, who lit up these classrooms, houses, and schools with his word, now fallen and silent, murdered.
Then came the embrace of our compañeros, collective and sincere, from the Sixth.
The distinct and different colors that helped us paint death another way, the night sparkling, the rain coming down while a cat-dog howled-meowed, calling on the light to relieve the shadow.
And we, mocking death, playing with marked cards, deceiving it with names.
Death is losing here. Just as it has for hundreds of years, same as always.
But no, it’s not the same as always. Now that which is compa is made with the figure 6, uniting against fucking death.
And the 6, overwhelming in its unprecedented stubbornness: you’re not alone, enough, not again, never again.
So then, back to reconstructing what was destroyed.
And then the peoples who are our teachers arrive, the native peoples, and they nourish us with their words, their pain, their rebellion, their resistance.
In the north, the Yaqui tribe is attacked once again and dignity is taken prisoner, as if the earth could be locked up behind bars.
And the system, the fucking capitalist system, paints history as horror. As it always does.
But we learn quickly that “Ayotzinapa” does not only name terror, and that injustice has many names in many times in all geographies.
“Ayotzinapa” also names the simplest kind of dignity—that is, the most powerful kind. The families of the 46 refuse to swallow a lie, reject bribes, and resist an oblivion that threateningly bears its teeth with each turn of the calendar.
This is the kind of dignity that moves our history forward, the kind that does not deserve biographies, studies, specialties, tributes, or museums: dignity from below, so anachronistic above, so incomprehensible, so persistent, so threatened.
When we see them, we see ourselves. And when we hear them, we hear ourselves. Our leadership spoke the truth when they embraced them and said, “Your pain is our pain, and your dignified rage is also our dignified rage.”
And when resistance and rebellion are convoked in calendar and geography, we are there just behind them, without making noise, making sure that it is the families who step up on stage, that they fuel other hearts with their pain, that their own hearts grow by listening to other words. We are just behind them, yes, but with a notebook and a pen: watching, listening, knowing, admiring.
And up above the competitions in the “protestadium:” the disputes over who gets the stage, over social networks, over broken glass, over good manners and bad manners, over a protest converted into a society page in the paper; and here below, the silent bridge of gazes.
Up there above they are making calculations over how much can be made off the movement; here below the questions are, “Where is truth? When is justice?”
There above, the so-called radicalism promises to itself that it will drive the new R-E-V-O-L-U-T-I-O-N (which in reality is quite old), programming activities that it will not attend (the assault on the Winter Palace can’t conflict with the holidays); and the families all alone, stiff with cold and rage.
And below, an anonymous hand offers something for the cold, the rain, the rage. A cup of hot coffee, a piece of bread to entertain the belly, a piece of plastic to keep out the rain, something for wet feet. And a murmur: “When they all leave, [those who are] no one will be left.”
Over there, outside and above, the well-behaved are still pointing out bad behavior. The captains of discipline installed throughout the media and social networks. Police without uniforms but with a platform and a congregation (they’re called “followers”)!
And there above, Power has its habits and customs: its mercenary pens, its slander, its lies, its enslavement through the media and the judiciary. The multiple death: killing life, killing memory, killing truth, killing justice: “The fault lies with the parents for sending them to study instead of sending them off to be braceros.”
There above, the latest fads: the elections, the candidates and the “options.” And the common denominator: a profound disdain for truth, for people, for history, for reality.
There above, they know that they don’t know what they should know: the catastrophe advances. They think if they simply don’t name it, it will disappear. They talk about time, the media machine, the internal adjustments, the electoral season, registration, credit, foreign investment, Spain, Greece. Everything will be fine, nothing to worry about. Because if they were to point out the storm, they would also be pointing to their responsibility… and their utter uselessness.
In a letter to their reluctant brother, [ 4] somebody lets it slip: “Over here we think that everything is going to get worse for everybody everywhere.”
Meanwhile, here below, in reality, the truth is known. There is no justice. Carefully, so that the memory of it is not broken in the process, the part that was destroyed is moved off to one side. This isn’t to forget about it, but to raise upon it a new building. “Another, more better” building as they say here.
There is the coming and going of people and materials, the rain and the sun, the cold and the heat, the hunger, tiredness, sickness. And then the ruckus that comes when the announcement is made “cover your heads, we’re going to take a picture so that out there they know that here our word means something.”
One guy who didn’t get a handkerchief or a ski mask pulls his T-shirt over his head, leaving just a little slit to see through. Somebody jokes, “sonofa…even here there are infiltrators.”
They laugh. But you can’t see that they are laughing. I can hear them, but the photo isn’t going to have audio so you’ll only see that they have their faces covered, and you’ll see the shovels, the hammers, the saw, the wheelbarrows, the cement mixer, and behind them the skeleton of a house, or maybe of a whale, who knows.
Later the skeleton has eyes, although it isn’t clear yet what they are supposed to be, because someone has to explain, “this hole here is going to be a door, this other one here is going to be a window.”
Where the real suffering and sweat happens is in the accounting. “Because we have to make exact reports, so that nobody thinks the money went to liquor or stupid shit.” The accounts don’t balance, so once again they enter the money that came in, what was spent, and what’s left.
Then there are the “anti’s” from the Murderous CIOAC-Historic who send their spies. Their disappointment is audible: “man, they don’t get tired,” they say; “now they have the walls up already,” they repeat; “man, they’re already building the second floor,” they exclaim, scandalized; and then, “They just don’t stop,” in resignation.
I see that it is no longer the skeleton of a house, nor of a whale. Its eyes and its mouth can be seen clearly—that is, its doors and windows.
They paint murals on it. Someone says, “it would be cool if horses really looked like that.” They laugh. Even Selena laughs, and she’s about to get married.
I come closer to see what all the noise is about. They are setting a date for the inauguration. They get serious because the work won’t be done by the day they had been discussing.
Then there is laughter again.
Later, the rain comes during the dance after the grand opening, as it tends to do. Then there is mud and they keep dancing. They are not celebrating because there is a new school and clinic in La Realidad, but because there are compas in reality. That’s why all that dancing leaves the ground flat.
Somewhere else there is a meeting.
I hear clearly that the leaders, men and women, say, “we have an agreement.”
They call the concierge, that’s me. They ask me for an account of what I have seen and heard.
I say: “well, sometimes one can’t hear everything or see everything well, it depends…” There is silence. They know this isn’t the answer yet, that this is our way of talking, round and round until we get to the point.
So, after a few rounds, I give the answer. I don’t say a lot, nor a little, just what is necessary. They listen in silence. Then they speak. One says, “that is indeed what we are seeing where I come from.” “Same here,” says another. Others concur. More words are exchanged. In reality they haven’t asked in order to find out, but to confirm.
As I am leaving someone stops me and says: “this is what has been happening for 500 years. But what we really need to learn is algebra.”
The meeting continues.
I’m out in the cold, cursing, but being careful so that no one hears me. Well, maybe just the cat-dog. When I realize it’s there, it’s already too late. But the story it tells me will have to wait because I know that the leadership is putting calendars and geographies to its words.
It is the wee early morning hours when SubMoy comes and gives me a piece of paper.
“All at once?” I ask.
“Yes,” he says, and adds, “and say there will be more information later. This is so the ones who will come get can get started planning.”
Then he gives me some paintbrushes. I’m about to ask him, anxiously, if I have to sweep the floor with these, when he says: “those are for the crack in the wall.”
I wait a little and then ask, “and the colors?”
“Ah,” SupMoy says, already at the doorway of the hut, “our visitors will bring the colors.”
So I went to the bulletin board, and I wrote everything up in one go. Done.
Oh! You can’t see our bulletin board. Okay, okay, okay, here it is:
ANNOUNCEMENT TO THE SIXTH… alright, okay okay okay, TO EVERYONE:
Write this on your calendars and plan from your geographies:
–Various words to be shared about critical thinking, starting with a report on the completion and grand opening of the School-Clinic in La Realidad Zapatista. Date: to begin March 5, 2015, anniversary of the death of compañero Luis Villoro Toranzo. Place: wherever you are.
–The pending homage to compa Luis Villoro Toranzo and homage to compa Galeano on the first anniversary of his death. Date: May 2, 2015. Place: Caracol of Oventik. Special Invitees: family of Don Luis Villoro Toranzo, family of those absent from Ayotzinapa, and the Sixth.
–Beginning of the Seminar “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra.” Date: May 3-9, 2015. Place: to begin in the Caracol of Oventik and continue in CIDECI, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. Participants: families of the absent of Ayotzinapa, national and international critical thinkers, and the EZLN. Special invitee: the Sixth.
–From July to December 2015. Decentralized, diverse, simultaneous, selective, massive, etc. World Seminar: “Critical Thought Versus the Capitalist Hydra.” Place: Planet Earth. Participants: The Sixth and others.
–Second Grade of the Little School (only for those who passed the first grade).
Date: July 31, August 1-2, 2015. Place: locations to be specified later. Participants: only those who receive an invitation for the second grade and pass the admissions exam. More information later.
–Fiesta for the Caracoles: Date: August 8-9, 2015. Place: the 5 Zapatista Caracoles
–Third Grade of the Little School (only for those who pass the second grade). Date:
November-December 2015. Specific dates to be determined. Place: to be determined.
So there you have it. As we say here: “more information, later on.”
From this side of the crack in the wall of the Little School.
Concierge until further notice.
Mexico, March 2015
Section “From the Journals of the Cat-Dog”:
–That deputized assassin, Mario Fabio Beltrones Rivera, was right when he said that: (the candidacy of) “Carmen Salinas doesn’t impoverish the political class.” It’s true, it actually encapsulates the political class better than any analysis: Carmen Salinas makes a living acting, as does the entire Mexican political class.
–The differences between the proposals of the various political parties are the equivalent of those between Tiger Balm and Aromatherapy. They are equally useless, but one is progressive and provides more intellectual prestige. Even in esotericism there are social classes, my dear.
(to be continued…)
 The text uses “otroas” meaning “other,” to give a range of possible gendered pronouns including male, female, transgender and others.
 Compa is short for compañero o compañera, like comrade.
 Cheap manual labor for the US.
 The author uses an explicitly ambiguous term, “bajo-protesta,” which in Spanish simultaneously means reluctance and/or “under oath.”